Saturday, 29 August 2009

First Reflections on Returning from Munich

Well we got back from Munich earlier today, somewhat tired after eight days travelling in and around the Bavarian Capital. When we were last there in 2007, the so-called "credit crunch" was just starting to unwind. In fact, at the time CNN (the only English language TV station available in our hotel) were making dire predictions about what would happen if the banks were to stop lending money to one another, as well as to the likes of businesses and private individuals.

Now two years on, I am pleased to report that Munich, along with the rest of the western world, seems to have survived the worst of the economic downturn. The city was perhaps looking a tiny bit shabby in places, but there seems to be a lot of construction and also renovation projects in progress - always a good sign.

We were blessed with glorious weather, with only one day of rain. We visited some fantastic beer gardens, and sampled some excellent beers. The best of these though, came from outside the city, with the honourable exception of Forschungs - whose beers must rank amongst some of the finest I have ever tasted. Of Munich's "big Six" brewers, Augustiner rose way above the rest, especially when served direct from large wooden barrels, as in the Hirschgarten. Hofbrau was also quite drinkable, but the likes of Lowenbrau, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner, whilst pleasant enough thirst quenchers on a hot summer's day, were not what I would call particularly "challenging".

This small gripe aside, we were really impressed by the popularity of the city's beer gardens. They attract people of all ages and from all walks of life. They act as great social levellers, and are places where people can go to relax after a hard days work, or to meet up with friends. At the weekends they are heaving, and are particularly popular with family groups.

Over the next week or so, I will be posting details of some of the best of these gardens, so look out for these.

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